I wasn't very good at art when I was younger.
I didn't win any of the coloring contests put out by the local organizations. I didn't paint or draw with any sort of amazement to others.
In fact, I distinctly remember one art assignment where we were paired up with a classmate, desks turned to face one another and set to the task of drawing the other person's face. I was paired up with a darling girl. She had a cute, spunky short hair cut and a pixie face and I made her look more like Quasimodo rather than an elementary-aged girl.
And it was all on me. She didn't make faces or have weird facial deformities that I had to deal with. I just plain ol' sucked at drawing human likeness.
Buuuuut..... (oh Lord, there's a but? Like it was maybe her fault she looked like Quasimodo? No, I told you, that was on me, the but is for - I think there's good that came from this.)
I think though, this lack of spectacular talent, makes me a better art teacher.
Say what now? Girl you cray-cray.
(I'm serious here. Hang on... stop laughing and let me explain.)
You see in my classes, I relish in the students that are "okay" at art. They're my peeps. My homies. They are where I reside.
The students with abundant talent can get grouped to the side of the room and teach themselves for all I'm concerned. They'll be fine.
They're probably going to do the assignment however they want anyway and they'll receive no less than 48 compliments on their work from peers and teachers combined - so yeah, they'll be fine.
The ones sitting there doubting themselves and trying to erase away their frustrations - I will sit on the floor and beg like a dog, I will stand on the desks and yodel like a Swede, I will do anything in between to make them understand that their work is worth seeing also.
Their pieces are worth compliments.
The kids that I have to plead with and pull finished products out of them - I. am. here. for. them. Each and every one of them.
If I have to sing, dance, tell jokes, tweet like a bird, do Bugs Bunny impressions or read from the darkest of chapter books to help them let go of whatever holds them back - I will.
Just ask them.
I do not care if the cool kids think I'm weird.
I do not care if the principal walks by and makes a note on his iPhone to "check on things in art more often."
I will give and give and put myself out there if it makes even one of those students who feel like they can't - change their mind and think...if she can do that, I can, at least, do this.
People often ask me how I wound up teaching art. Do I have an art degree?
Did I go to school for art?
No. Why would I go to school to further myself at something I was never good at in the first place?? (I don't actually say that to people, but let's be honest -that's the real answer.)
Did I go to school to be a teacher and just decided art was a good fit?
No. In fact, when suggested, by my academic advisor, that I could take a few extra courses in such-and-such and then, should I ever want to, I would have my speech teaching degree within a semester... I laughed. I said, "no, I'm good. I can't see myself ever being a teacher."
So how did I end up being an art teacher?
Basically, because when you're young you don't actually know sh...very much about what you actually want. About what will be important to you when your life actually takes shape. When you envision your life in one way and when it goes a very different direction you sit back and go, "daaaaaamn, this is nice too. I think I can get behind this. What do I have to do to make this life work?"
Not being great at art and not ever wanting to be a teacher probably won't combine to win me any teaching awards. I never promise my students I'm the best.
I just give them my all and put myself out there in hopes that they will return the favor and put themselves out there into their work.
And also, I do a lot of erasing.